Introduction: Sarla mudgal vs. Union of India Citation: AIR 1995 SC 152
Our constitution gives us the freedom to practice or profess any religion. It also includes converting into a religion of our choice which was not assigned to us since birth. This provision of our constitution is also misused sometimes. Bigamy is punishable under IPC for all religions except where the personal law does allow for polygamy, such as Muslim.
To practice bigamy what people mostly do is convert their religion to Islam. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 declares that marriage between two Hindus is void if their partner is living and they have not divorced at that time.
This issue was raised in the case of Sarla Mudgal vs. Union of India.
FACTS OF THE CASE:-
Under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution four petitions were filed in this case.
The first writ petition was filed by two petitioners, Sarla Mudgal and Meena Mathur. Sarla Mudgal was President of a registered society called Kalyani. It was a non-profit organization that worked for the welfare of needy families and women.
Meena Mathur was married to Jitendra Mathur since the year 1978. They had three children out of their wedlock. Meena found out that her husband was also married to another woman named Sunita Narula, also known as Fatima after both converted into Islam. She said that her husband converted to Islam only to marry Sunita. He does not have any faith in the converted religion.
To this Jitendra Mathur asserted that he can have four wives after converting to Islam.
The second petition was filed by Sunita Narula. She contended that she and her husband converted to Islam to marry each other and both have a child out of their wedlock. But under the influence of Meena Mathur, Jitendra Mathur gave an undertaking in the year 1988 that he will convert back to Hinduism and take care of his first wife and three children. As the petitioners continued to be Muslim, she was not maintained by her husband.
The third petition was filed in Supreme Court by Geeta Rani who was married to Pradeep Kumar in 1988 according to Hindu rituals. She too got to know in the year 1991 that her husband has married another woman after converting into Islam. His purpose of converting into Islam was to only marry another woman.
The last petition was filed by Sushmita Gosh who was married to G.C. Gosh according to Hindu rites in 1984. In 1992 her husband asked her to give him divorce by mutual consent because he did not want to cohabit with her anymore. When Sushmita questioned him more, she found out that he had converted to Islam and was to marry Vinita Gupta. In the petition, she prayed that her husband should be stopped from the second marriage.
1.Whether a Hindu husband married under Hindu law, after converting into Islam can solemnize a second marriage?
2. Whether the first marriage being dissolved under Hindu law be valid?
3.Whether the husbands are guilty of an offense under section 494 of IPC?
RELEVANT ACTS/ STATUTES USED IN THE CASE:-
1. Hindu Marriage Act,1955
Family law deals with the family relations and domestic cases. Hindu marriage act is a part of family law according to which marriage is a sacramental tie, the relationship which should be secured at all costs. For such purpose there are certain provisions but if two parties are not able to stand the relationship anymore, it believes in separating them by granting decree of divorce.
2. Indian Penal Code – section 494
According to this section whoever having a husband or wife living, marries in any case in which such marriage is void by reason of its taking place during the life of such husband or wife, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall be liable to fine. It is a non-cognizable, bailable offense.
3. Constitution of India – Article 44
Uniform Civil code for the citizens of the state shall endeavor to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil code throughout the territory of India.
ARGUMENTS FROM PETITIONER:-
All the petitioners argued that their husbands have converted to Islam for the sole purpose of marrying another woman and to avoid provisions of IPC given under section 494. Their second marriage should be dissolved or restrained.
ARGUMENTS FROM RESPONDENT:-
All the respondents in the petitions asserted that after converting to Islam they can have four wives and while having the first wife who is Hindu, they can marry again. So they are not subjected to any provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 and IPC.
JUDGEMENT OF THE CASE:-
Court took into consideration all the issues and laid down that after a marriage held under Hindu law, certain rights and obligations are acquired by both the parties. If one party will be allowed to marry again without dissolving his first marriage by adopting and new personal law, then the rights of another spouse will be destroyed who continues to be a Hindu. The marriage will only be dissolved under provisions given in section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act. Until this is done, neither can marry again. Any second marriage will be illegal. Such marriage will be violative of justice, equity, and good conscience.
Court also held that the husband will be guilty of an offense under section 494 of IPC. Converting to Islam and marrying again can be a ground of divorce but will not dissolve the marriage.
In this case, the court also advocated the necessity of the Uniform Civil Code in the Indian legal system so that people will stop interfering in the personal laws of each other.
Sarla mudgal vs. Union of India Citation: AIR 1995 SC 152 – Bigamy – Uniform Civil Code UCC Sarla mudgal vs. Union of India Citation: AIR 1995 SC 152 – Bigamy – Uniform Civil Code UCC Sarla mudgal vs. Union of India Citation: AIR 1995 SC 152 – Bigamy – Uniform Civil Code UCC Sarla mudgal vs. Union of India Citation: AIR 1995 SC 152 – Bigamy – Uniform Civil Code UCC Sarla mudgal vs. Union of India Citation: AIR 1995 SC 152 – Bigamy – Uniform Civil Code UCC Sarla mudgal vs. Union of India Citation: AIR 1995 SC 152 – Bigamy – Uniform Civil Code UCC